Over the past year I have been in a lot of different living situations and scenarios. These have prompted me to learn how to adapt within different “habitats” and to better understand the various ways other people live. Adjusting my lifestyle to mesh with others hasn’t necessarily been my problem, but it left me questioning myself and my own lifestyle.
You see, I often feel the overwhelming need to have “my very own quiet space” and “alone time.” This has been weighing on me for a long time now, but it wasn’t until the past week or two when I started working from home officially, that I really began to question myself. I was forced to now think about why I do the things I do, which I never had the time to pay much attention to before. Is there something wrong with me? Am I a mean person? Why can’t I be more social like my husband? I was left feeling guilty, even irritated at myself, for feeling this way and just all around at a loss.
Tuesday night my great friend Cassie invited me to go take salsa lessons. I had spent about an hour or more during this lesson learning basic moves, switching partners, laughing, having a great time! Then, out of nowhere, I had an overwhelming feeling like I was just DONE. I wanted to stop participating immediately, and sit down where no one would bother me. I excused myself to the restroom, finding the perfect excuse to “hide” and sneak away, then sat alone at a table in the corner while the lesson continued.
On the way back to Cassie’s hotel, I was explaining to her why I stopped dancing, and how I often get that “need to be alone” feeling during social situations. We began talking about the difference between an introvert and an extrovert. I had not the slightest clue what these two terms meant. I had heard people use them before but I never understood and never looked into it for I didn’t feel it pertained to me. I was so wrong. She explained it to me as simple as possible so that I could better understand. Essentially, an introvert needs to be alone to recharge his/her batteries and being around people drains his/her battery. An extrovert, being the exact opposite, charges his/her batteries by being around people and drains his/her battery by being alone. A-ha!
I started to feel understood for the first time in my life as she explained and gave me examples of scenarios I may have experienced and what I needed to do to realign myself. I’ve been thinking about this ever since our discussion. I have come to realize that if I don’t let myself “recharge” (ie. have alone time), I don’t function properly. I feel stressed, I get snippy and feel mentally drained. I always thought there was something wrong with me, until now.
Perfect example. On a normal work schedule, I would spend all day at work behind a desk in an office with other people so I was clearly never alone. I was stuck there from 8am until about noon, when I would go somewhere, anywhere, to be alone. You would often find me reading a book, getting a juice, or I would just take my car and park it around the corner and sit. I’d come back to work around 1pm and spend time around others until 5pm, and I was already itching to get out the door. I would drive myself home and then immediately go to my room because I was seeking my alone time, my recharge. Once I had enough time alone, I would venture out into the kitchen and make food, converse with the current roommate. I now realize that the alone time didn’t make me weird, it simply recharged my battery.
I honestly want to cry writing this because I seriously never knew this was normal. Even worse, my husband and I have spent so much time fighting about it over the years. Why didn’t I want to go out and be in social settings? Why did I want to be alone when I got home and he was there? Didn’t I want to spend time with him? I could never properly find the words or reasons to explain to him my deep feeling and NEED to be alone, just for a little bit. When I would come home from work and I found he had company over, no matter who it was, I would get extremely upset. I would almost beg him not to have people over when I get home. I honestly felt like a terrible person for this. I had no idea why I felt this way, I just knew that I did.
I’m learning now that his need to be in social settings constantly may be because he is an extrovert. We haven’t discussed this yet so I don’t know for sure but I know how I identify and it’s different from him. I just wish I knew this a long time ago because I could have better taken care of myself and not made him feel so unhappy and confused.
If I think back even further, this came into play many times growing up. In middle school I refused to play sports or be a part of any sort of team because I did not like being surrounded by people for long periods of time. I decided that I was shy, or simply not a team player. I think we can all agree that this is not true at all given that I am now a part of a huge and constantly growing team. I just didn’t understand why I felt the way I felt.
I hope to better understand this personality type as my life progresses so I can identify what will make me the best version of me. I wanted to share this because I feel like sometimes I almost obsess over when the next time I will get to be “alone” is. I honestly had no idea why I felt like that but I now realize that it is very important for me to take care of myself in this aspect so I am not left feeling unhappy and let my batteries properly recharge!
You were born to be real, not to be perfect.